Braids are a wonderful way of growing out your hair as long as they are installed properly and well taken care of. They can be very helpful to ladies who prefer the braided look or simply want to switch up their style. The main advantage of growing your hair with braids as opposed to wigs and weaves which I have covered in posts hereand here is that your scalp is allowed to breathe a bit more. This is very important in terms of hygiene and important for the overall health of your hair. With braids it is easier to oil your scalp, moisturise your hair and also washing your hair becomes easier to do as opposed to if your hair is in a weave. So if you are looking for a healthier and lower maintenance way to grow your own hair out please look no further as braids might just be your answer.
However prior to and during installation of braids there are a couple of things that can promote the health of your hair and enable you achieve that length you are looking for:
Wash and deep condition your hair: At least five days or less before installing the braids wash your hair with a sulfate shampoo; this is essential because it will ensure that your hair is properly stripped of any residue that might be clinging to it. I have covered the different types of shampoos in this post here. However if you are opposed to sulfate shampoos in general you can use a sulfate free one. After washing your hair do a deep condition treatment that consists of both moisture and protein. This will help to fortify your hair during the braiding process.
Ensure you hair is well moisturised/sealed before braiding: It is important that your hair is properly moisturised before getting it braided. Prior to installation use a good hair moisturiser – one that does not contain any petrolatum, mineral oil and so on. A good hair moisturiser will ensure that your hair is well moisturised before the braids are put in. Also ensure that you seal your hair with a natural oil like olive oil, sweet almond oil, Wura’s Secret Hair GrowthOil and so on. Please if you do not know what moisturising/sealing is you can benefit from this post here.
Oil your scalp (Optional): Some people prefer to oil their scalp which can promote hair health which in turn leads to hair growth, if you are one of such people then you can oil your scalp before braiding it using a natural oil.
Discuss your hair braiding preferences with your hair installer/braider: It is important that you tell the person braiding your hair to make sure the braids are not done too tightly. You will know the braids are tight when you feel pain, get a headache and such while the person is braiding your hair. Also tell the person to be extra careful around the hair line and nape areas as these areas are more fragile and hence more prone to breakage. Please note that anything you do to your hair in terms of care and maintenance cannot counteract poorly fixed/tightly installed braids. It is therefore extremely important that braids are not too tight so as to achieve optimal hair growth with the braiding process.
After the braids are fully installed you can apply hair moisturiser and oil to your braids and oil your scalp: After braiding your hair, there may have been some pressure applied to your scalp albeit it light. Therefore to compensate you can oil the scalp which will soothe it and then moisturise/seal your hair again to re-enforce moisture that might have been lost during the braiding process.
Now that your braids are in; the following are necessary to achieve hair health and growth whilst your hair is in braids:
Moisturise/Seal your braids about two to five times a week: Actually the amount of times you choose to do this is a personal decision. However it is good to moisturise your braids as much as possible for optimal length retention. You can be sure that by moisturising your braids you are also getting some of that moisture back into your hair. After applying the moisturiser you should always seal with an oil which will provide your hair with extra nourishment, prevent breakage and prevent the moisture you just put into your hair from escaping quickly.
Oil your scalp as often as two to five times a week (Optional): The reason why this process is optional is because some people do not oil their scalp because they believe it might clog their scalp. However this is a personal decision and it is indeed advisable to oil your scalp using a light to medium oil, some heavier oils can even work on some people. The thing about braids is that oiling your scalp is made that much easier because your hair has already been parted for you so all you have to do is to apply the oil. Oiling the scalp can actually be very beneficial to your hair as it provides nourishment to the scalp, moisturises it and can even help prevent excessive hair breakage.
Wash and Condition your hair (Optional): The reason why this is optional is because some people might prefer not to wash their hair for aesthetic or other reasons. However braids make it is so easy to wash your hair. This is because your hair has already been sectioned unlike when you have a weave installed so you do not have to engage in too much manipulation. When washing your hair it is advisable to follow this process: use a runny shampoo or slightly diluted shampoo and concentrate your efforts mainly on the roots, rinse and repeat. Allow the water to cleanse the rest of the hair as you rinse. There is no need to wash the braids themselves as this may result in tangled hair during the take out process. Also when applying conditioner, it is best to stick with a regular conditioner that is runny apply over your braids, cover entire hair with a plastic cap for about 5 to 10 minutes and gently rinse. Use you leave in conditioner and then moisturise/seal your braids, oil your scalp and leave to dry. If you choose to use a blow dryer be sure to use some heat protectant first.
In my opinion braids are an excellent longer term protective style. There are so many people that have grown their hair to extra ordinary lengths using this technique. It is just important that you take care of your own hair while it is in the braids and no matter how much you take care of your hair, braids should not be left on for too long. A reasonable time to keep them in is between 2 to 8 weeks. After this time you may have to contend with serious breakage due to the hair matting. I definitely recommend that you do not leave your braids on for too long so that the benefits of the braids can be seen in the health and length of your hair.
If you really want to achieve longer hair try this method, follow the rules and you will achieve good results. Please stay tuned for my next post which will be coming up soon. I will also feature posts on my wedding hair style and the entire wedding with pictures, please watch this space.
You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming – Pablo Neruda